If you’re a dog lover and spend any time on the interwebs, you have probably seen a comic or twelve by Rupert Fawcett.
The Secret Life of Dogs
Fawcett’s comics are spot on (couldn’t resist the pun) as anyone with a dog–or several–will tell you. It’s as if the London resident somehow transported himself into my living room–or bedroom–and performed a Vulcan mind meld with the pups of the house. His humor is just a little twisted–imagine if Gary Larson of the Far Side drew only dogs–and nearly alway elicit a groan of recognition, followed by an immediate urge to share with other dog-minded humans.
Here’s the kicker; Fawcett doesn’t have any dogs. Not a one. Though he lived with dogs–rescues–growing up, there’s no room in his current London apartment for pooches. So he gets his inspiration from everyone else’s dogs. His sister’s dog. His mom’s dog. His aunt and uncle’s dogs. His friends’ dogs. The dogs walking their people along the towpath by the Thames.
A keen observer of humans, Fawcett was people watching on the towpath by the Thames one day when he turned his eyes toward the dogs accompanying their humans. He began pondering what goes on inside a dog’s head, setting off his cartoonist’s imagination. He thought, “Maybe I’ll draw some and give them thought bubbles.”
Inspired by dogs and more dogs
At first, Fawcett drew on memories of the dogs he lived with as a boy: Sally and Nicky. As he posted his cartoons, his fans began sending him pictures of their dogs going about their doggy business. When Fawcett featured a cartoon of three dogs crowding a woman on a sofa, his fans responded: “That’s not enough dogs.” Soon he was drawing cartoons with six, seven, eight…a dozen dogs. Fawcett’s most popular cartoons show dogs covering every inch of a bed or a couch like a canine comforter, which any of us with multi-pet homes would laugh at and say that’s exactly right.
Fawcett posts his cartoons on his Facebook page, where he has nearly 700,000 followers–including yours truly. His fans post pictures of their dogs naturally doing the same things as the cartoonist drew. It’s an adorable circle of art imitating life imitating art, notes Fawcett. “I’ve got such a responsive audience,” he says.
Off the Leash book is now available in the US
Now Fawcett has gathered a pack of his favorite drawings and put them in a book that has just been published here in the States.
In the pages of his book, you’ll find dogs that lick themselves, then cover their humans with puppy kisses; dogs checking off their to-do lists to make sure they’ve gotten everything done, including scratching, yawning, stretching and ripping up tissues; and a peek into puppy school classes where youngsters are taught the importance of destroying the newspaper before it’s read by humans.
Most of the dogs in Off The Leash are not a recognizable breed; they look more like the variety of pups found at a shelter. That’s done on purpose, says Fawcett. He is a huge fan of rescue organizations; “They do great work,” he says.
Fawcett believes dogs are inherently funny. “The joke is about the dogs, as characters,” he says. It’s their very dogness that makes them amusing.
There’s plenty to laugh at in the book; every page elicits a giggle, a LOL or an outright guffaw. It’s more than that, though. “Dogs are joyful,” insists Fawcett–and that comes through in his drawings and captions.
What about cats?
While kitties appear rarely in an Off The Leash cartoon, a black cat is seen in every one of Fawcett’s Fred drawings. His name is Anthony, but he never has a speaking part, as far as I can tell. When asked if he’s ever had cats, a sheepish grin appears on Fawcett’s face. He has two Burmese kittens: Lulu and Percy. He’s looking forward to a time when he lives in a house and can add “a couple of puppies” to his fur family.
His deep connection with animals began when Fawcett was a youth. His brother, watching him show so much affection for one of their dogs, would tell him he was weird.
Thank goodness for that connection and that weirdness–because that’s what makes Fawcett’s cartoons so much fun.
Fantastic Off The Leash Giveaway exclusive to Life with Dogs and Cats Readers
To celebrate the publishing of Rupert Fawcett’s book Off the Leash, we’re holding a giveaway. One very lucky reader will receive a personalized signed copy of his book, and a signed print of his cartoon shown above–the one with the dog squishing himself next to his human in a chair, and hoping she won’t notice.
Enter below to win!
The winner is Victoria Carter!
Disclosure: I received no money for this review; just a reviewer’s copy of the book. The opinions expressed here are my own.Tweet